Making It Work: Gamine

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I knew nothing about gamine style until a few years ago when a close friend of mine went literally nuts about it.  Gamine is an adjective that means "a mischievous kid, like a street urchin". It wasn't until after the birth of my children that I really began to look to gamine style as a go-to look for casual wear. On my busiest momma-of-three days I reach for silhouettes that aren't fussy or high maintenance, but always look for pieces that are more visually appealing than a baggy, college t-shirt (and I live in a college town, so I see PLENTY of those!). 
This post is not meant to be A Girl's Ultimate Guide to Gamine as much as a list of guidelines I follow to achieve a look that feels cohesive and multi-functional for all the activities that typically fill my days.

Incorporating a gamine feel to your look is a balancing act...combining the girl-next-door charm with coy femininity.  The shapes are generally boxy, which means you'll want to include soft textures like silk or simple touches of lace.

1) Keep your accessories thin.
A few slim and colorful accessories will sweeten up the most basic outfit. Throwing a well-structure blazer over a playfully girlish blouse will instantly take a look from tom-boyishness to adult sophistication, but you want your accessories to be skinny to offset the boyish and boxy shape of the jacket. It works because the two extremes play off each other and it's why you'll see women combining the most ruffly dresses with riding boots or a charming blouse with a pair of Sperry's. With gamine, it's all about the balance.

2) Utilize sophisticated color palettes.
Obviously, you can use any natural palette of color combinations...grays, camels, and creams. Aim for warm, neutral hues, then add one shot of unexpected color.  The black and white stripes on this sweater are playful, while the pale pink ruffles on the blouse are sticky with girlish charm. 

3) Add a trench.
No matter the color, a well-cut trench is chicer than chic...a shape that is timeless and classic.  The beauty of the classic trench is that it never goes out of style and can be worn for every occasion.  Pairing it up with ballet flats will soften the masculinity of the coat and I almost always wear my hair up high when wearing a trench to keep the big collar from looking messy.

4) Keep the palette and the design simple. 
Dainty stripes, clean lines, and boxy cuts are mainstays of gamine style--at the same time, don't be afraid of a little quirk--the more whimsical, the better. Remember, mischievous is part of the definition. It's the perfect excuse to wear a silver braided headband or large flower brooch.  If you're like me and have a hard time editing the quirk our of your style, just roll with it. We make the best impressions when we're being ourselves. The simpler the design of your outfit, the more of a statement your quirky piece will be.

At it's heart, gamine is about contrasting attitudes...a perfect approach to dressing that will trend-proof your everyday look because you'll be combining pieces that are classy enough not to look too of-a-moment. Try a delicate bow here, an elegant bit of tailoring there....and you'll be well on your way to gamine. 

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  1. You are a wealth of style information! You are so creative with your outfits and I appreciate all the help I can get from such a cute gal. This fellow momma of three is guilty of dressing in extremes--t shirt and shorts one day, dress the next. Bookmarking this post!

  2. Well now I know what to wear my boxy blazers with! Thank you :)

  3. I love this post. I feel like comfy, casual is my style. I try to incorporate some structured pieces into my look and appreciate your inspriation!! :)

  4. You are looking amazing as usual! Great to see you IRL last week :)

  5. I guess i just found out what my style is called! These looks are just what I'd wear...comfy and chic--the perfect marriage!


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